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Pakistan win first round at Abu Dhabi

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 19, 2006 02:09 IST
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India were dismounted from the high horse of success by a determined Pakistan, who cantered to a thumping six-wicket victory and took a 1-0 lead in the two-match one-day cricket series in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

The comprehensive defeat, which came barely three days after capping a 5-1 drubbing of England, left India looking mediocre and also exposed their vulnerability in both batting and bowling.

After scampering to 197 all out in 50 overs, Rahul Dravid's men watched helplessly as their archrivals surpassed the modest target in 48.3 overs, riding on a splendid 71 not out by Younis Khan.

As Kamran Akmal (24 not out) hit the winning runs, a four off S Sreesanth, the large number of Pakistani supporters at the Zayed Stadium erupted in joy, waiting as they have been since the last six years to see their team tame India in the desert kingdom.

A Pakistan victory was never in doubt once captain Inzamam-ul Haq (40) and Younis, his deputy, got together to string an 86-run partnership.

Inzamam struck four fours in his 73-ball knock while Younis, the perennial Indian nemesis, slammed four fours and a six off 96 balls to assert once again Pakistan's superiority over India at neutral venues.

That India came into the match on the back of 17 wins and just five defeats counted for little as Pakistan showed it was performance on the day that mattered and not previous glories.

With the next match slated for tomorrow (Wednesday), the Indians will have hardly any time to recoup and ensure they do not sign off what has otherwise been a remarkable season on a losing note.

Chasing the modest target, Pakistan were off to a steady start with openers Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat milking runs at will against a wayward Indian new ball attack.

Farhat picked Pathan for special treatment, slamming the left-hander for three fours in an over to throw him completely out of gear.

But Sreesanth worked up a good pace and was rewarded when he had Malik caught by Dravid in the slips for 12 to give India their first breakthrough and reduce Pakistan to 42 for one.

Ajit Agarkar (2/33) then removed Farhat with a perfect yorker that shattered the stumps of the batsman. Farhat made 30 off 41 balls with the help of five fours.

India squandered a golden opportunity to dismiss Younis Khan when an off-colour Pathan failed to flick the ball on to the stumps after receiving an accurate throw from Yuvraj Singh from point, the batsman being yards away from the crease.

Thriving on the chance, Younis took the Pakistani score to 146 before Inzamam was dismissed, caught by Venugopala Rao off Ramesh Powar in the 37th over.

But by then Pakistan were already heading towards victory, needing just 52 runs for victory in 13 overs.

Pakistan lost Mohammad Yousuf just three runs later but India's fate was already sealed.

India innings

India appeared a pale shadow of its recent regal self, unable to come to terms with either the conditions or the opposition.

There were no signs of their recent inspired performances as they were bowled out below the 200-run mark in exactly 50 overs.

Had it not been for Venugopal Rao (61 not out) and Suresh Raina, who rescued the team from a pathetic 72 for 4, the Indians would have cut a sorry figure.

Rao shared a crucial 64-run partnership with Raina, the only other notable performer with 40 after Dravid won the toss and elected to bat.

There was an ominous ring to the way the Indians gifted away their wickets on a track that had no devil in it. As many as four batsmen were run out while another four were caught while attempting ambitious shots.

Shoaib Malik was the most impressive among the bowlers, taking 3 for 40, including the prized scalp of Mahendra Singh Dhoni (3).

India were off to a sedate start as the Pakistani new ball bowlers maintained a tight line and length. The perseverance of the bowlers paid off when Robin Uthappa, hero in India's last one-dayer at Indore, was out to a soft dismissal. The Bangalore opener tried to loft a Rana Naved-ul Hasan delivery but ended up hitting it straight to Mohammad Yousuf at mid-on.

Irfan Pathan was again promoted up the order and the left-hander tried to build a partnership with his skipper with some intelligent batting. But their stand came to an early end after a misunderstanding saw Dravid being run out for 20, which came off 29 balls and included three fours.

Yuvraj Singh failed to sustain his imperious form of the England series, edging behind to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal off Ifthikar Rao for a mere 7.

India got another jolt soon when Pathan was also run out, for 26, which included three sweetly struck fours and came off 49 balls.

Pathan played down to mid-on and called for a run, but Naved-ul-Hasan moved in quickly and his direct throw hit the bowler's end; Pathan was out of the crease by miles.

With India reduced to a precarious 72 for 4, it was left to youngsters Rao and Raina to resurrect the innings. The duo brought some order into the proceedings and stitched a partnership of 64 runs for the fifth wicket to take a subdued India beyond the 100-run mark.

Raina (40) looked confident during his stay at the wicket, hitting three fours that included an exquisitely straight driven four, before he tried to hit Afridi over midwicket and ended up finding Iftikhar in the deep.

Dhoni walked in to a rapturous welcome but lasted only 10 balls, bowled by a yorker from Malik for 3.

With wickets falling at regular intervals, Rao (3x4, 93 balls) stood guard at one end before eventually running out of partners.

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